Our mother has died leaving her three children, all in their 40’s, equal shares in her Estate which includes her house. One of the children is living at the property and does not want to leave, while the other two wish to sell it and share the proceeds. What should we do?
Technically, once the Administration of your mothers’ Estate has been completed, the property should be vested in the names of the three children as Tenants in Common. This means that if one of the children should die, their share will pass in accordance with their Will, or on their Intestacy, and does not automatically pass to the two other remaining children.
Accordingly, all three children are effectively joint owners and if one wishes to occupy, of if he or she does not occupy, does not wish to sell the property, but the other two joint owners wish to sell, then unless agreement can be reached between the three of you, the two who wish to sell may apply to the Court for an Order for Sale.
The Court will make an Order unless there are extreme circumstances justifying that such an Order should not be made. If one of the children continues to occupy the property that child will, of course, be entitled to one third of the property in any event. One solution may be for him or her to purchase the interest of his siblings at a price they all agree.
During the course of the Administration the property will of course be the responsibility of the Executors of your mothers’ Will who will also have a responsibility to ensure that the property is administered in the best interests of all beneficiaries. It would be advisable for a decision to be made regarding the property during the course of the administration to avoid any future dispute and this may also allow an independent Executor to determine objectively a solution which would be in the best interest of all three beneficiaries.